Tag Archives: loudspeakers

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl

There is something to be said for tone controls, but they need to be done correctly, or they will make a sonic impact on the music. My Luxman 590 AX II has them for bass and treble and they are done very well. It even has a loudness control to be used at low listening levels, boosting bass and high frequencies. Very transparent, but when I’m using the Luxman, I listen direct as my system doesn’t much need tone controls and I almost never listen at low levels.

Tone control

There was a time in our HiFi history that the ability to electronically control music’s tone was necessary. Necessary because the entire chain of electronics and loudspeakers were bad enough to warrant their intrusion.

Sure, many bemoan the lack of bass and treble controls, even full band graphic equalizers, but for the most part, we neither miss them nor need them.

And that’s the point. Our equipment’s gotten so much better as to obviate the need for tone controls.

The crutches of the past don’t apply to the equipment of today.

Yet fond memories of their power linger on.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl

Loudspeakers designed and measured to sound flat in an anechoic chamber will sound terrible in a real life listening room environment. That’s just the way it is.

The price of flat

There’s really no such thing as a flat loudspeaker.

Loudspeakers are such inaccurate mechanical devices that if one were to attempt a flat frequency response, enormous levels of compensation would need to be applied. And, even then, those compensating changes in amplitude would only work in a very small area.

Unlike an audio amplifier whose input vs. output is fairly straightforward, speakers present an enormous challenge—one that depends on so many outside variables (box, baffle, room size) as to make it a non-starter.

The price of flat, as it pertains to loudspeakers, is equivalent to the price of peace.

Unaffordable.

Not to despair. Fortunately, our ear/brain mechanisms are powerful enough to adjust so that when we listen, it sounds “flat”.

And at the proverbial end of the day, if it sounds flat then it is flat.

Problem solved.

 

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl

Ringside seating

On most recordings, there is a combination of close and distant miking. The close miking gets us a closer-than-natural intimate view of the instrument or performer, while the distant microphones add the missing ambiance and space close-miking cannot capture.

What’s odd about this miking technique is that it works despite the fact we are never as close to the instruments as the microphones.

One way to think about this is to visualize actual musicians in the room. Let’s use a single cello in our example. Mentally place the cellist a few feet behind the loudspeakers. Now, close your eyes and imagine how that would sound from your listening seat.

What you are hearing is a combination of the direct sound from the bow and string coupled with the room’s interactions.

Now, mentally replace our imagined performer with the close-miked cello. It sounds “the same” because the distance between the loudspeakers rendition of the close-miked sound and the listener mirrors the distance between our imagined performer and where we’re sitting.

It may seem counter intuitive to place microphones closer than our ears ever go, but that’s how we get musicians in our rooms.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Walking on water

A magician can easily walk on water. All one needs is a few inches of the wet stuff and some Plexiglas shoe-lifts. Amazing. Magical.

Knowing how the trick is performed ruins the illusion and that’s the last thing we want to do.

Better to be amazed than to think too hard about how it was done.

Our stereo systems are magical devices. They create a three-dimensional holographic image right before our ears.

We can turn low the lights and press play. Magically, the illusion of real musicians appears in that treasured space between our two loudspeakers.

It’s alright to share the magician’s secrets when it comes to helping others build their own magic machine.

Here’s to day two of a magical new year.

Welcome 2021.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Not to get political, but to look at 2020 any other way than a nightmare is unfathomable to me.

I know a lot of people that are in the right tax bracket, or have benefitted from Government programs  are doing ok, as long as they haven’t contracted CV 19, but over 335,000 unnecessary deaths on its own is enough.

However, the Pandemic and its gross mismanagement by this President and his GOP enablers, as well as a  morally, intellectually and corrupt President of the US,  makes 2020 even worse.

And then there are those that support someone who most likely is a traitor to the US and their support for this deeply flawed and dishonest President is is extremely disappointing to me.

There is no apparently no middle and 2020 and 1/20 can’t happen fast enough for me.

Getting near the end

As we approach the end of 2020 we likely all have mixed feelings about this crazy year.

I won’t dwell on the obvious bits of 2020 we’d all like to put behind us. As 2021 approaches I think we’re all hopeful the bad parts stay in the rearview mirror.

The rising sun of 2021 is just there, peeking over the horizon, anxious to spread its gentle glow across a tortured landscape.

At PS Audio we’re excited for what is to come. Our long-awaited loudspeakers, the Octave Player, a new PS Audio website, to mention just a few. In fact, there are seven new products on our busy 2021 docket, the descriptions of which I will roll out to you over the coming months.

I am convinced that with vaccines on the way and a hopeful easing of the massive divide we see in our country, 2021 will be a great and gentler year to look forward to.

 

 

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Pleasure, indeed!!

Practical vs. pleasurable

A Corvette Stingray is not the most practical of cars. Yes, you can pick up groceries at the market, arrive in style, and race about town, but you’d be hard-pressed to take the family to dinner.

A fully decked out high-end audio system, on the other hand, is both practical and pleasurable, though we likely didn’t take the plunge because it was practical.

For most of us, the word practical didn’t much enter the conversation when we drooled over the latest amp, scrimped, and saved for that new transport, or sweet talked our better halves into that new pair of loudspeakers dominating the living room.

The operative word was pleasure.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

I’m so impressed with the T+A Audio gear I’ve now got on display and using full time, that I’m going to listen to their T+A Criterion S2200 CTL speakers here to possibly take the place of my beloved Daedalus Ulysses V2 speakers. I’ve loved the Daedalus speakers for  along time, so I think its going to be hard to top them. However, I have an open mind and even if I replace the Daedalus loudspeakers, most likely I’ll keep the BOW subwoofers, as I have a large, mostly concrete listening room and they will work great with the T+A speakers, as well.

The illusion of fixed

Standing atop Flagstaff mountain, one of the highest points in Boulder Colorado, I feel anchored. Immovable.

And yet I am intellectually aware that is but an illusion. That I am actually held by gravity to a single point on a huge sphere spinning at 24,000 miles an hour while rotating around a 584,000,000 mile arc at 67,000 miles an hour. From my vantage point that could all be nothing more than a myth. To me, I am just standing still.

No, I haven’t yet joined the Flat Earth Society.

The point of this post is to remind us that even though it may appear we’re locked in place, fixed, unmoving, we’re actually flowing down a continual stream of changing circumstances. Like riding in a car at 60 mph. The road outside’s constantly changing and yet inside the car life appears static.

I listen more and more to streaming sources like Qobuz, though my stack of trusty SACDs stands at the ready. One year ago it would have been the opposite.

What will tomorrow bring?

I’ve lived for years with the Infinity IRSV as my lifetime reference standard, but I am open to considering something else.

Fixed circumstances are but an illusion, though the comfort gained from a steady hand on a known course cannot be dismissed.

Steady as she goes but only for the moment.

Audiophile labels

By the headline, you might think I am referring to record labels, but I am not.

If you’re reading my words you own the label audiophile. You have an interest in better sound, in music, in attaining an emotional connection with that which emanates from two loudspeakers. You sometimes sit and stare at a blank wall behind the loudspeakers just like I do. You likely turn down the lights and relish the idea of spending time with your favorite musicians. I know that certainly applies to me.

I often think of time spent in the listening room as a guilty pleasure.

Just for me.

Does that label me an audiophile? Most definitely. And that’s just fine because that term, that label—Audiophile—has meaning only amongst our kind. I cannot tell you the number of times when I have been asked what my passions are and answered “audiophile” only to be greeted by a blank stare.

It’s just a label. But that label has meaning amongst those of us reading this blog post, and I find that to be something special.

You’re an Audiophile.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

My seating position isn’t compromised, as my room was purposefully built for listening to music, but for almost all of us, what Paul is saying, is true.

The perfect spot

Your seating position is compromised.

If you’ve done your system setup homework your chair sits at a comfortable distance from the loudspeakers. With the precision of a ruler, you’ve tweaked and adjusted the speaker’s position for best imaging.

Though we call it the sweet spot, it’s certainly not the perfect spot.

Within the boundaries of most rooms, the perfect spot cannot be attained because of our old nemesis, bass.

If we could see sound we’d be rather shocked at how low frequencies bunch together like an angry sea of waves and throughs. Not far from your sweet spot bass notes boom. Move in the opposite direction and we hardly hear any low-frequency energy.

The perfect spot is where compromise negotiates a truce with boundary limitations.

Which is why we call our listening position sweet rather than perfect.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Fitting speakers to rooms

I get a lot of questions. Often, they start out with the room’s dimensions and then progress towards the meat of the subject. What speakers should I buy?

I am unconvinced there’s a legitimate relationship between the room and the choice of loudspeakers.

Yes, of course it’s probably not a good idea to put a 6.1 foot tall pair of Duntech Sovereigns in a closet, just like it’s perhaps not the best idea to hope that a pair of 2-way bookshelf speakers will fill an auditorium.

But within reason, speakers should not be chosen to match room dimensions.

Instead, speakers should be chosen to match expectations for the types of music you listen to. Some speakers are better at jazz and classical than rock music and metal. Others sound good on all music and great on none.

When you’re in the market for new speakers, jump right to the reviews that speak to you about music. How do potential speakers jive with the types of music you’re hoping to get right in your room?

Worrying about matching speakers to rooms is a little like stressing over which style of clothing works best in a particular suitcase.